The Bomkai saree, one of the traditional sarees of east India are created by the adept artisans who excellently define the tradition and culture of India by the simple work of needle. The traditional figured saree from the southern Orissan coastal plains is the Bomkai saree. This saree is named after the village where it was discovered in the early 1980s. Sonepur is located in the western part of Orissa. Sonepur hand loom woven sarees and dress material are known for their unique "Bomkai" designs locally known as "Bandha" design. This Bomkai design on the fabric (especially on Sarees) is developed by using Jala technique on handloom. The art of weaving has been existing in this part of Orissa since 600 B.C. The scriptures in the caves of Khandagiri reveal this. a female figure driving a chariot drawn by four horses and the Lakshmi in a lotus pool being bathed with water from pitchers held by two elephants. By late 1980s, this hand loom cluster had begun specializing in silk weaving especially the Bomkai design (locally known as Bandha Design) without using any extra shedding mechanism like Jacquard and Dobby. The artisan of the locality used to create Bomkai sarees since the commencement period of the fabric. It was originally made for the local maharaja, aristocracy and Brahmins of the Chikiti tahsilm of the Ganjam district.
Unlike other centres where jacquard looms have taken weaving by storm, Orissa still uses the traditional jaalas for weaving Bomkai. Wooden jaalas are used and are tied the traditional way by jaala bandhaks (weavers).” Jaala system is the predecessor to the jacquard looms. The design is tied by specialists called jaala bandhaks keeping in mind the design to be followed in the pallav and the saree. If it is an intricate design, the procedure is repeated. Otherwise smaller designs such as bootis and florals are worked through the extra weft. Sahu adds, “When complicated designs have to be woven, a second set of jaalas are used where motifs akin to the pallav are carried on the rest of the saree or in case of salwar kameez’s, the designs of the dupatta or yolk in the fabric are woven in the entire fabric. Simple designs such as bootis and small florals are woven in the entire fabric.” The technique is in itself a furthering of the tie and dye technique. In case of Bomkai, the yarn is tie dyed but the focus is not on patterns which emerge out of tying and dyeing. It is used to get the contrast colours in the saree. So
both the warp and weft are processed. the border and the pallav are worked on the basis of colour combinations.The double shades of the saree. This gives a saree an almost woven. it is the supplementary-warp patterns of the borders that give these sarees their names.. The ornamentation is worked using the extra weft technique or jaala system which gives the tapestry that kind of look. “Even lower counts of 80 are woven. while for Palavas and anchal of sarees.
The Bomkai cotton saris have been influenced by tribal art. For border design. KUMBHA: A row of Kumbha spires is favourite border motifs. forming a latticework of small diamond shapes is the most popular border. the saris are woven in both cotton and silk with brilliantly created angular discontinuous supplementary-weft patterns woven in the end-piece in contrasting colours Bomkais are woven in cotton.
. The cotton used is usually of higher quality being 100 counts and 120 counts. Nowadays. and are embroidered with temple spire patterns on the border. Recent innovations include the introduction of zari threads in weaving while earlier the entire design was done in thread work with cotton or silk yarn as the fabric base. Yet despite all the work in the endpiece. TEMPLE: A row of temple spires which pretty much look like triangles is also a signature border of bomkai sarees. These are coarse with a rough finish. as well as their elegant color pallette. Once the dyed yarn is fitted in. carpet like effect. East Indian ladies love to wear Bomkai sarees for their traditional tribal look.The Bomkai design both the warp and weft is dyed according to the requirement. BORDER'S MOTIFS: Bomkai sarees feature threadwork ornament borders.. but are woven according to the choice of the weaver. weft is processed and overall saree designs. Mitkta panji: A broad band of supplementary-warp patterning called the `mitkta panji`. Some of border motifs are. silk and tussar. The supplementary bands are not woven in progressive order from large to small. warp alone is processed.a pallav or border may have a solid dyed block or can be double shaded. The borders are woven using what most weavers refer to as phool bandhaks which flow on the designs on the border. the pattern is worked using extra weft technique. or vice versa.
elephants and flowers. Fish symbolizes prosperity and good health. kanthi phoola (small flower) and kalera (bitter gourd). and war—Indra—is depicted in the form of a peacock. rains.Lotus and Flies. Floral: The florals and even plain bootis are also found. In India. and Islam. TRIBAL SPLENDOURS: Apart from these motifs Bomkai sarees are famous for their stikingly beautiful traditional tribal designs which are mostly geometric in form. Motifs are inspired from the tribal arts of bomkai village where it originated.Bomkai patterns are hand woven from gold or silver colored silk threads.Rudraksha: The motifs in the borders include ubiquitous rudraksha or bead motifs.The patterns adhere to the traditional tribal motif of Orissa. which includes geometric designs. FISH: Some Bomkai saree have small fishes woven onto the pallav. Birds. Peacocks: it represents a symbol of rebirth in the mythology of Hinduism. Atasi flower. The sarees are brilliantly created with angular discontinuous supplementary-weft patterns woven in the endpiece in contrasting colours. They embellish pallu (falling edge) of a saree. the image of the God of thunder. birds.These motifs are often placed in rectangular forms in a row.elephants. ducks etc in geometrical forms. Peacock. Buddhism. In Hinduism.
The speciality of Bomkai is the contrast borders and heavy designs on the saree pallavs. Later on. Also depicts love. stick). while the blouses are again in contrast colours.Shankha( holy musical instument) peacock and fish. FLAURA and FAUNA: The motifs used are Kanthiphula. dombaru (small hourglassshaped drum). Bomkai sarees are made of one of the easy to wear fabrics with traditional designs and patterns. other patterns have such names as rukha (pestle. KANTHI PHOOLA: these are small flowers. the peacock is also a symbol of love. Fish. since 1980s the technique was introduced and gradually developed on finer cotton and silk with a numerous buta / buti design which nowadays is the main focus point of Orissan Handloom Sarees. PALLAV MOTIFS: There are Bomkai sarees with elegant designs.Traditionally the women of Orissa dress in sarees of blue. enchanting colors for the exclusive women. red and magenta and other deep
cotton bomkai is favoured. Bomkai Silk Sarees are generally worn in formal and semi formal occasions. skirts. Even if it has a white field . CONTEMPORARY: Since tissue lends a shiny effect to Bomkai. The contrast colours are beautiful such as yellow interspersed with black and a green border or peacock blue competing with golden border. It is the sheer contrast and eye catching colours which stand out such as grey teamed with a brilliant red. Double border sarees in Bomkai have also been introduced.Since Oriya sarees have a close relation with Jagannath culture. it would surely have a bright contrast colour such as red. be it in silk or cotton. achkans etc.colours.Recent innovations include the introduction of zari threads in weaving which also adds richness to saree. A Bomkai Cotton Saree is also an excellent choice for any religious function. It is the design and colour palette that makes Bomkai stand out. interspersed with rich ornamental motifs. Bomkai is sold in women’s tops.
. Double shaded borders vie with single solid colour borders and this is the signature of bomkai sarees. tissue Bomkai is also quite popular. Tissue. white. It has largely been popular as sarees with little experimentation to explore Bomkai in other forms of clothing such as salwar kameez’s with riveting colours. It is probably the adaptation from tribal textiles that makes it so vibrant and arresting. red and yellow—is extensively used in oriya sarees and bomkai is no exception. the four basic colours which are commonly found on Jagannath—black.
TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY USAGE OF BOMKAI SAREE:
TRADITIONAL: The cotton adaptation led to its popularity. jackets.For regular wear. stoles. The vibrancy of colour combination especially contrast colours are rarely seen elsewhere. black with glazing golden border and pallav. The borders and pallav can be double shaded. black . men’s shirts. deep blue etc. The introduction of zari is a novelty as the focus of the work has been on using thread work as ornamentation. an exclusive preserve of south Kanjeevaram sarees or Banares is hardly seen in Orissa.